Goldsmiths Prize for Fiction 2021

Sterling Karat Gold, the third novel by writer, critical theorist, and creative writing lecturer Isabel Waidner, has won this year’s Goldsmiths Prize.

Image shows the cover of the book, it is like green with white writing and has a giraffe overlayed over an image of London
Sterling Karat Gold by Isabel Waidner, Peninsula Press, 2021

Waidner was announced as the winner of the £10,000 prize rewarding mould-breaking ‘fiction at its most novel’ at an online ceremony on Wednesday 10 November. 

Sterling Karat Gold is the second of Waidner’s books to be shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize –We Are Made of Diamond Stuff was a finalist in 2019. 

The Goldsmiths Prize was launched in association with the New Statesman in 2013 with the goal of celebrating the spirit of creative daring associated with Goldsmiths as a university, and to reward fiction that breaks the mould and extends the possibilities of the novel form.  

The Goldsmiths Prize 2021 shortlisted books were:

  • Claire-Louise Bennett, Checkout 19 (Jonathan Cape) 
  • Natasha Brown, Assembly (Hamish Hamilton) 
  • Keith Ridgway, A Shock (Picador) 
  • Leone Ross, This One Sky Day (Faber & Faber) 
  • Isabel Waidner, Sterling Karat Gold (Peninsula Press) 
  • Rebecca Watson, little scratch (Faber & Faber)  
Goldsmiths Prize 2021 shortlist: The six most cutting-edge novelists  writing today - New Statesman

Published on 24 June 2021, Sterling Karat Gold is described by its publisher, Peninsula Press, as ‘Kafka’s The Trial written for the era of gaslighting. A surreal inquiry into the real effects of state violence on gender-nonconforming, working-class and black bodies.’  

When Sterling is arrested one morning without having done anything wrong, they are plunged into a terrifying and nonsensical world. Sterling – with the help of their three best friends – must defy bullfighters, football players and spaceships in order to exonerate themselves and hold the powers that be to account. 

In her description of this year’s “spirited” and “uninhibited” shortlisted novels, Goldsmiths Prize 2021 Chair of Judges Dr Nell Stevens described Waidner as bringing “wit, swagger, playfulness and fury to an unfettered journey through an unjust justice system.”